By Jean-Pierre Gabriel
Phaidon Press, $49.95, 527 pages
This massive volume is the result of three years of fieldwork collecting recipes from every region of Thailand. Author/photographer Jean-Pierre Gabriel presents some five hundred of the collected recipes and a large number of full-page or double-page photos illustrating life, landscapes and dishes of this country.
“My hope is that this book will let you explore Thai cuisine and see it as I have seen it, in all its variety and abundance.”
As a collection of dishes presenting the cuisine of Thailand this is an outstanding book; as a cookbook, it’s a failure. Even if you have a well-supplied Asian market available to you, many of the ingredients are local and impossible to find for us (frog meat, live crickets, ant eggs, young madam leaves, trumpet tree flowers, etc). Gabriel wrote this book for cooks worldwide (Europe, England, Australia and America) and measurements are confusing, inconsistent and at times are downright wrong. He gives prep times, but you need to double or triple these if you are an average American home cook. The editing of the text was not good: grammar and sentences are often awkward or erroneous. Recipe instructions are sometimes ambiguous. And this collection is simply too much for most of us (fifty-four Thai sauces and dips?). The eight invited chef recipes added at the end are also hard to follow.
Reviewed by George Erdosh